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Minn. Halts Enforcement of Desgregation Rules

State officials in Minnesota have decided to stop enforcing a regulation that calls for penalties against school districts where minority enrollments in a single school exceed 15 percent of the district's average.

Since the rule was established decades ago, the state education department has notified districts that they were at risk of losing state aid if any of their schools fail to meet the desegregation criteria. Districts have typically responded by shifting enrollment between schools through busing plans.

But this year, the state board decided to rewrite the regulation--which has had the most impact in Minneapolis and St. Paul--so that it does not effectively require busing.

As a result, district officials will not have to alter their plans for the 25 schools around the state that ran afoul of the guidelines last year.

Targeting Gifted Students

Massachusetts officials have launched an effort to promote programs for gifted-and-talented students.

The state's executive office of education and the Massachusetts Association for Advancement of Individual Potential, a nonprofit group dedicated to helping gifted children, plan in the coming months to develop teacher training programs, offer instructional materials to schools, and sponsor conferences on gifted students.

State education officials estimated that about 75 of the state's 331 public school districts have programs specifically designed for gifted-and-talented students. Lawmakers approved nearly $500,000 in this year's budget for grants to help districts develop more such programs, and allocated $1 million to expand a program that allows high school juniors and seniors to take courses at a public college or university, according to Ted Frier, a spokesman for the state executive office of education.

"Gifted students' needs often have been overlooked," Mr. Frier said. "We always hear from public schools that they're losing the best students."

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